Date of Award
Master of Arts
Ernest Gellner, Benedict Anderson, and Anthony Smith, all have differing theories pertaining to the origins of nations. While Gellner suggests nations are products of industrial societies, Anderson argues they are rather the consequences of print capitalism and Smith proposes nations are a modern phenomenon, which are generally, built upon pre-modern ethnic identities. As enlightening as these theories are, they fail to explain how a nation could form amongst an illiterate and culturally dissimilar enslaved population, namely Haiti. In pursuant of a framework to explain how the Haitian nation was theoretically constructed, this thesis postulated three primary stimuli propelled the emergence of a nation amongst Saint Domingue’s Black populace. First, via the deconstruction and reconstruction of their African ethnic identity the culturally diverse population became more homogenous. Second, the grapevine communication system within the Black population parallels the phenomenon achieved through Anderson’s conception of “print capitalism”. Third, the institutions of colonization/slavery in Saint Domingue, in and of, themselves created a unique environment in which nationalism and thus nation formation could occur.
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